Sunday, February 13, 2005

Not in, like Flynn

Peter Wilson, in The Australian, talks to Doug Flynn about why he knocked back the job of Fairfax CEO. It's a tough piece, and worth remembering that Wilson has had his own close encounters with the Fairfax interview process. He was reportedly a candidate for the position of Editor in Chief of The Age before the job eventually went to Andrew Jaspan.

Wilson is quoting Flynn on the selection process:
"'I have to take great care in what I am saying, because this is The Australian, after all, and newspapers tend to take great delight in pouring shit all over the opposition - you can quote that. But the truth is the process was too slow. It was inadequate. They had basically asked me to come but it was just taking forever to conclude it. It just felt a bit unwelcoming and a bit begrudging, the whole thing.'

Fairfax, publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age in Melbourne and The Australian Financial Review, first approached Flynn four months ago, well before Rentokil sounded him out, 'but it was just all too slow and indecisive'.

'I had accepted the money, which was about half what I am getting over here, (but) the problem was the process.'

Fairfax chairman Dean Wills was not always available to talk to him as 'Dean is not a young guy and he's been ill'.

'They had intermediaries involved in the process and I think that is where it fell down,' Flynn says. "I think if it had just been Dean we could have concluded it in about a day.

'They made an offer but it kept on moving. I just said, 'I have had enough'. I had an enormous amount of time pressure put on me from three different directions: my own company (Aegis) because (the approach from Fairfax) had become public months before, so it left this company - which I love dearly - in the shtook; I had school considerations, with school starting on January 28 in Australia; and another company (Rentokil) had approached me after Fairfax had approached me.'

A Fairfax spokesman yesterday refused to comment on the lengthy negotiations but Flynn says the selection process left him worrying about how much he would enjoy actually doing the job.

'Dean is a lovely guy but he has made it clear that he is going to move on as chairman. I just think they have got to get a more decisive, clearer process to go through next time around, otherwise they are going to have the same trouble again with whoever they try to put in. You can always find somebody to do that role; it just depends whether they know what they are doing.'"

No comments: